Tetronics (International) Limited

Waste recovery for nuclear wastes - Energy - Nuclear Power

Nuclear waste is divided into low, medium, and high‐level waste by the amount of radiological character it contains. Low and Intermediate Level Nuclear waste is the radioactive waste resulting from nuclear facility consumables, clothing, laboratory equipment etc. This waste can adversely affect human health and the environment and therefore must be handled appropriately. Typically, the waste is kept underwater for 3-5 years until the radiation decays to levels that can be shielded by concrete in large storage casks, where it can be held for thousands of years. A challenge for the nuclear industry is the cost associated with conditioning, packaging and storage of these heterogeneous wastes. Therefore, a solution that can decrease the volume of nuclear waste, and reduce the amount of storage required, is considered a commercially advantageous option.

How Tetronics can help reduce the volume of nuclear wastes

Using Tetronics’ plasma waste treatment technology, a considerable stabilisation and decrease in the volume of radioactive waste can be achieved before intermediate storage and then geological disposal. Overall, the combination of volume reduction and end-product stability makes the plasma process particularly attractive for the treatment of all forms of hazardous wastes and, especially, nuclear wastes.

The capital and decommissioning costs for a plasma plant are similar to those of a cementation plant. However, our analysis comparing the lifetime cost savings of using plasma vitrification instead of cementation for unprocessed wet Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) inventory amounts to billions of pounds in the UK alone. In summary, the Tetronics plasma process produces a waste product, which is stable on a geological time scale and compact, thereby reducing life cycle costs.